An Uphill Climb to Customer Service Excellence
Can you really ever achieve customer service excellence or is it more of a journey than an actual destination? Striving for excellence isn’t really like climbing a mountain, once you reach the top of a mountain you can proudly declare that you’ve legitimately reached your destination after all. When you’re climbing towards something like customer service excellence you can set milestones, sure, but will you ever really be done?
The short answer is no. How can you be finished with working towards excellence? In a lot of ways, excellence is ephemeral: it’s a concept, not a set standard. Everyone’s definition of excellence – particularly, customer service excellence – is different and will vary from business to business. Different companies set different standards and expect different levels of excellence at different points in their life.
Then there’s the competition. As soon as a competing company ups the anti, it’s necessary for businesses to reassess and aim higher than before. Customer service is one of the key ways to differentiating against the competition; you have to earn your customers, they have nothing to prove to you.
So let’s agree that it’s a journey, not a destination.
And it’s an uphill journey, if it’s not you might not be setting your standards high enough.
The road to customer service excellence should not be a walk in any other park than Jurrassic. It should be difficult, and leave you with a sense of accomplishment every time you reach a safe zone. If you stop and find yourself strolling in between a bunch of bronotosauri, chances are you need to veer off road into T-rex territory again. Why? Because that’s where you can make the biggest impact, where you can really prove yourself agains the competition.
A great example of this is Uniqlo, fashion outlet extraordinaire. A few years ago, CEO and founder, Tadashi Yanai, revealed that he was fascinated by failure.
Failure is important, it’s where we learn. These days too many companies – and individuals for that matter – prefer to play it safe and don’t take risks anymore. To go back to my journey/Jurassic Park analogy, people would rather not risk getting eaten by the T-rex or chased by raptors anymore – it’s safer to stay in the wide open plains with the vegetarians. The trouble is: doing the same things and not taking risks eventually end up as ‘boring’, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re on the journey to customer service excellence or on a drive to Tesco to do groceries, boring means dead.
Companies, like people, should be boring. They should be exciting and work towards difference. It’s the only way to get to greatness and give your customers what they really, really want: a fulfilling, new, innovative customer experience. And yes, it’s an uphill climb, a walk on the wild side, but if it wasn’t we’d all be bored… to death.